Skull and Shackles
Shogunate of the Shackles
Notable Settlements: Genzei (1,318), Robu (690), Zeibo (785)
Dominant Denizens: Humans (primarily of Tian-Min and Tian-Sing ethnicity)
Other Denizens: Elves, half-elves, tengus
Resources: Coins, fresh water, gems, safe harbor, silks
The story goes that nearly 2 centuries ago, seven ships from Minkai, led by an eccentric samurai patriarch named Tanagowu Useme, found their way to the Shackles. Useme and his rowdy followers had grown disillusioned with the subtle, labyrinthine intrigues of Minkai politics, yearning for a fabled earlier time when every samurai was his own lord and master, living by his skill with the blade. When these intrepid souls first set foot on what is now the largest of the Ushinawa Islands, they were greeted by the murderous kuru natives who populated the stony Ghol-Gan ruins that dotted the isle. A month of bloody fighting saw each and every kuru put to the sword. The proud warriors and the Tian-Min sailors and servants who had accompanied them on their journey halfway around the world established their home in the very ruins formerly inhabited by the vile natives, naming the newly cleansed limestone town Genzei. Within 4 years, the nine other islands of the archipelago were similarly cleansed of kuru and the Sublime Shogunate of Ushinawa was born.
While all pirates who call the Ushinawas their home pay a hefty tribute to Shogun Tanagowu Heigo, the isles otherwise boast great independence. Human residents (mostly descendents of the original Tian-Min settlers) dominate the populace, but swashbuckling elves soured on the eccentric rule of Witch-Queen Kaala on Kepre Dua have made a home here as well, appreciating the bold meritocracy that is the shogunate. A surprising number of tengus for whom the seagoing life has lost its allure have also retired to these islands, typically tending shops and taverns or working the docks.
Ushinawa samurai have enormous scorn for slavery, and no enslaved persons are permitted to set foot on any of the islands. Though not above selling a captured shipload of slaves to willing buyers elsewhere in the Shackles, the residents of these isles feel great contempt for those who allow themselves to become the chattel of another. In fact, should it be discovered that someone is actually a former slave, he may find himself the subject of gross insults and challenges from haughty samurai offended by the mere presence of an ex-thrall.
Though great effort has been exercised to cleanse the limestone ruins on the islands of the kuru and Ghol-Gan taint, adventurers still occasionally stumble upon entrances to deeper dungeons. Most such sites are marked and sealed off immediately, though not before a few intrepid souls have descended into the catacombs in search of treasure.